Olympic Bar Weights – But are they Standard?

Answer to the title is…..NO! Olympic bar weights may be standard in your gym, my gym and everyone else’s gym, but they are not considered standard weights.

Based on our website name, Bumper Plates & More, you may think this article is going to be about….well, bumper plates. However, Olympic bar weights are any weights that fit on the standard 2″ sleeve of an Olympic weightlifting bar, yes, including bumper weights. Come to think of it, I have never seen a standard size bumper plate, and frankly I hope I never do.

Basic Types of Olympic Bar Weights & Designs

There are some basic types of Olympic weights. These include:

  1. Bumper Plate weights

    Olympic Bar Weights, Bumper plates
    VTX Colored Bumper plates.

  2. Cast Iron Olympic weights
  3. Rubber grip iron plates

Bumper plate weights are weight plates made of rubber that contain a metal insert which is the part that actually sits on the Olympic bar. These weights are used in all Olympic lifting and are very popular in the Crossfit world. Not to mention they are just plain fun to throw around.

Cast Iron Olympic Bar Weights

Cast Iron Olympic weights are the bread and butter of the strength building world. They are as their name states, weight plates made of cast iron. They are usually the first weights found in a young man or woman’s gym and are very commonly used in and around a power rack.

Rubber grip iron plates are basically cast iron covered in a durable rubber but that also have a metal insert that makes contact with the bar, similar to bumper plates in that respect. These rubber covered iron plates are more resistant to corrosion and rust than their bare cast iron cousins. The rubber helps deaden the sound made by the weights being placed down, but are still not made to be treated as bumper plates can.

Bumper plate design is limited when it comes to shape. They do come in multiple color designs, including the standard IWF color specifications; however, they are all a circular round shape. They really cannot be anything different because their main purpose is to lifted off the ground and then dropped back on it. Drop a square on its corner and either we’re off chasing a bar filled with weights, or we are in the E.R. with broken shins.

Cast Iron and Rubber grip iron plates come in multiple variants.

  • Round basic
  • Round with open spaces for handling
    • There are many styles under this heading. Each company has found a style they produce and sell.

  • Hex (or more sided) plates

But What About Standard Weights?! – What About Them?

What about them? OK, just kidding.

standard-weightsThere are actual times that you may want standard weights and weight bar. For example, your wallet. How much do you want to invest in weights? The bars are smaller and lighter than their Olympic counterparts and make for easier storing, although Olympic bar storage has come a long way in the past decade.

One actual usage of standard plates that I would consider, is dumbbells. Standard plates and dumbbell bars give you better control with weight on them. Olympic dumbbells are a bulky in comparison and can be an issue with certain dumbbell exercises.

Standard plate designs are not as many, as their popularity just isn’t there. They are usually cast iron and are round in shape, like discs with little to no grip to them.

Why Olympic Weights Over Standard Weights? – Be an Olympian, not Standard

This may seem as a no brainer type question, but to our fellow human who wants to embark on the fitness journey, I say we owe them at least a couple reasons why.

First, Olympic weights are more universal in the fitness world. Not saying you cannot find or buy standard sized weights, just that there is a reason why you always see them on Craigslist and the like. Olympic bar weights are sturdier, in my opinion, as the 2″ (50mm) opening of the plates, hugs the Olympic bar much better than the standardized weights and their 1″ bar.

Resell. You may buy weights and realize they are not for you and that is actually a very common occurrence. I mention in the prior paragraph that you seem to always find standard weights for sale. Not that you will not find Olympic weights there either, but you will not see them for sale nearly as long as you will with the standard weights (of course asking price matters).

And the bar itself. If you buy an Olympic weightlifting bar, you can use Olympic weights, but also bumper weights without having to buy a whole new bar. The same cannot be said for standard size bars.


Standard weights may be a good investment for the brand new lifter, if he or she is around 13 years old, or for the starter who gets them for a very cheap price. However, I believe, you should start a child in the right direction and they will stay that direction when you leave. Give them something that will last a lifetime verses possible sand filled plastic standard plates that will last until the firs ding.

Do you agree or not? Do you enjoy standard weights? Let us know what your preference is and what YOU would like the next article to cover!



One thought on “Olympic Bar Weights – But are they Standard?

  1. I agree with you, I would choose Olympic Weights Bar over the starnand ones. Mostly because of the lifetime factor.
    And to add with that, it is obvious that you change the Weights a lot through the time so that is one reason too to think about the long times’ factor. So you can make use of it for a long time period.
    All of that means that man needs to make a plan how to build the Olympic Weights collection up, any advise about that?

    1. Glad we see eye to eye on this. Assuming a person is brand new to weightlifting, I would suggest a basic Olympic bar and 300 lb cast iron weight set. Learn the basic compound lifts (squat, presses, and deadlift). From there is when I would suggest investments. If that person is still committed I would then suggest some bumper plates and a nicer bar. Learn the Olympic lifts.  After those two basic sets, to me, most other stuff is complimentary. 

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